By TJ Millman
The Milford Buccaneers earned their sixth straight State Championship this past Saturday, and they made it look easy. Anyone who has been around Milford Head Coach Don Parsley or the Milford Wrestling program knows that even though these wins may look easy, no one on the mat is taking the situation lightly. Parsley expects a lot of his athletes, pushing them every single day and believing that there is always more in them, but most importantly, his athletes believe in him as well.
“I have a really special team. They have more fun than any team I have ever had, they work harder than any team I have ever had, and they believe in me. And I know it sounds like, “Really? They’re supposed to,” but when I tell them that we have a plan, there is no hesitation. It’s just, “Okay. Let’s go do it.” I really can’t ask for anything more than that,” Parsley said.
Milford made short work of their opening round opponent, Mt. Pleasant, winning 81-0, and then won their semi-final match-up against Woodbridge by a final score of 51-18. Milford knew that they had an advantage going into the finals, wrestling against a Caravel team that they had beaten earlier in the season, but no one on Parsley’s team was taking their opponent lightly.
“Not once did we ever take their team lightly… we stayed focused, and we treated them like any other team we wrestle. We go hard from the start, and we finish strong, and we just do our thing. We wrestle, and we just leave it out there on the mat, and it pays off with victories. It definitely does,” Milford senior Evonte Bennett said.
Bennett has wrestled a lot at the JV level in his high-school career, and his varsity matches are usually against the other team’s top opponents so that Milford can find favorable matchups in other areas. This time however, Bennett got the nod at 285 and pinned his opponent only 36 seconds into the match. Bennett’s win put the Bucs up 33-4 and really put things out of reach.
“He’s wrestled for four years, he’s done everything I’ve asked, and I use him oftentimes as that extra guy. Tonight, he got an opportunity to go out there to show me why I believe in him,” Parsley said.
A major decision from freshman Jack Thode gave the Bucs a 37-12 lead, and effectively ended the match right there. Facing a delay due to injury in the Division I final, Milford forfeit the remaining three matches and took home the victory by a final of 37-30.
“I was debating on whether or not to do it, and then when they mentioned the delay I figured it was just the best move. At the end of the day, I wanted to have respect for the athlete, the match was out of reach, so it was just as easy for me to forfeit the remaining matches,” Parsley said.
Milford’s winning wrestlers in the finals match were Jordan Passwaters, Gaij Copes, Rafael Mejia, Bevensky Augustine, Eric Bennett, Anthony Diaz, Evonte Bennett, and Jack Thode.
Looking ahead, the Bucs will make their move into Division I next year, and Parsley is already excited to see what his team is going to be able to do.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to stay on the Division II side and have this nice stretch, but I have a good group of kids, I have 11 of 14 starters coming back next year, it’s time for us to make the move, and I think we’re going to be up for the challenge,” Parsley said.
Sign up for you free digital subscription of The Weekly Review, delivered directly to your email every Tuesday morning. A quick cover-to-cover read to catch up on the news of the week and experience great stories about our local communities. Sign up for your free email subscription below.